How did that ole Tom Jones diddy go…hope is in the air??
Pitchers and catchers have reported to Fort Meyers, FL for the start of the 2012 Minnesota Twins spring training camp. Leading the way were marquee free agent acquisitions C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt. They are the power arms signed to bolster one of the more battered staffs in the American League.
Not only were Twins pitchers some of the most fragile in league, when they did pitch, they did their best to disprove the notion that Target Field is a “pitchers” park. Wilson and Oswalt should anchor a Twins staff that is in desperate need of the type of stopper that can pick the ball up every fifth day and inspire a squad. The Twins have not had a guy like that since two-time Cy Young winner, Johan Santana, toed the rubber for the home nine. Fortunately, a new stadium and increased payroll flexibility, have allowed the Twins keep their promise to their fans and put a competitive squad on the field, year in and year out.
All right, hold on, hold on, hold on. Don’t get your Homer Hankey in a knot. I know what you are thinking, “You chucklehead, the Twins did not sign any of those players.” If you read the previous couple paragraphs with a bittersweet regret, welcome to the 2012 Twins fan club. It is cold. I hope you brought a coat. At the very least, you are going to need layers.
Not once, during the entire offseason, were the Twins ever reported to be in the discussions for a marquee free agent. Some of the lists of interested teams for the players referenced above grew to more than half the league, but, never once were the Twins included. As a contributor (not exactly voluntarily) to the architectural wonder that is Target Field, this is frustrating.
We, as citizens, were told that building a new stadium would allow the Twins to remain competitive with other “big” spending teams. And, at first, it seemed like that might be true. Homegrown talent, turned superstars, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer were all paid considerably well. To borrow from another 60s legend, the times, they were a-changin’.
Unfortunately, a series of freak injuries (I mean, bi-lateral leg weakness, seriously?!?!) and a 99 loss season have precipitated a shift to that approach. In fact, the mastermind behind the Twins run in the late 90s and early 00s, Terry Ryan, was rehired to do the task his self-appointed mentee, one Bill Smith, could not complete: build a championship team.
The return of Messer Ryan also meant the return of his penny pinching approach. Cue the Jamey Carroll, Jason Marquis, Ryan Doumit, and Jason Willingham signings. That is right, the expectations for this year’s squad are tied to a 39 year-old journeyman shortstop, a reclamation project at C and P, and a well-traveled slugger that may or may not be capable of slugging.
Just one time, it would be nice to pick up the local newspaper (okay, who I am kidding), click on the sports section for one of the local papers, peruse the headlines for the day, and see that the Twins were seriously interested in pursuing big name, Free Agent X.
Unfortunately, this year, all the “headlines” were “made” by the signing of undervalued free agent veterans. More succinctly put, there no marquee signings, only Marquis signings. Here is hoping that Sean Bourroughs really is the next Josh Hamilton. Personally, I am going to hold off on getting my Bourroughs All-Star jersey until after training camp breaks.